Monday, November 13, 2017


As long as I have "painted" landscapes with native plants, I am still in awe of their durability and fortitude against perils in nature. Wildlife, weather events, and even other plants pose constant threats to their survival, yet they continue to reach toward the sun and "bloom where they are planted." Here in the Coastal Bend we wage a constant war against leaf cutter ants, mosquitoes, and other biting pests, and exotic-invasives, such as peppertree and guinea grass. Leaf cutters, specifically, chomp on plants indescriminately; they eat natives, adaptables, and exotics alike. But surprisingly their feast does not kill the plants (usually). Denuded, plants trudge on and simply cover themselves with new leaves, new blooms, or new berries. Native plants appear particularly resistant to the mawing, and sometimes it seems as if they thrust their fists into the air in protest. You will not defeat me, Ants, they say.

At least, I imagine that is what these resilient plants would say if I could speak their language. I might not hear their words, exactly, but I do "get" their need to be planted somewhere they will get just the right amount of sunlight or water, or the proper range of temperatures, or in the right soil. Like my foliar friends, I have preferences, too. For instance, I loathe cold weather and therefore live in the Southern US. I also prefer Texas to the other states where I have lived, so I live in south Texas. I prefer beaches and coastal prairies with pockets of forests. I live in Texas' Coastal Bend where I have plenty of sunshine and sand, saltwater and salty breeze, rolling prairies of bluestem and wildflowers, live oaks and redbays. The Bend is the birdiest place in the US, and I am delighted daily by the diversity of winged residents. This area is also part of the migratory path for a number of hummingbirds and butterflies -- two of my favorite visitors to my garden. Winters are often warm, and I have not suffered snow in many years. Aside from having only two seasons (Inferno and two weeks of winter), The Bend is my paradise. Living here has cultivated my creativity and brought me the happiest (and also the most challenging) years of my life.

Each day, our little slice of paradise shows improvement. There is still plenty of water to pump to our neighbor's pond every day. Every. Single. Day. (Yes I am typing this with a hint of frustration.) But it's fine, it will all be fine. Someday! I often find plants that had been moved to higher ground (but not high enough for the likes of Harvey) and are alive. They have been buried under downed limbs and stripped leaves from our beloved live oaks. Without consistent irrigation or touches from human hands, these survivors are barely hanging on. Some were submerged under water, some were toppled over in flowing water and are brown on one side. Their appearance is a little off , but like the rest of us here in The Bend they will resume their loveliness, in time. Recently I have begun making plans for giving them permanent homes here at Sage Hollow in our demonstration gardens, which must be started over anyway. Clean up continues, repairs and rebuilding continues. And, like the plants we choose to share our life with, we continue to persevere. Our family and the families of our crew are resilient.